Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Blue Castle Games
N Amer - 06/25/2007
The BIGS Review
Whereas the battle for video game baseball dominance seems to be resting in the annual struggle between EA’s MVP Baseball series and 2K’s MLB franchise, the latter is delivering a different kind of baseball experience that favors fast-paced arcade action instead of a sim-heavy one. The BIGS from 2K Sports takes another route from the publisher’s MLB series, by taking away the simulation elements and Season modes and adding only the elements that make baseball fun to watch, namely big plays and intense situations. For the most part, The BIGS succeeds in providing a compelling baseball game, but the PSP version does fall prey to some issues, like sluggish controls and a lack of features. Still, if your looking for an exciting baseball game to play on your PSP, then The BIGS is the best (albeit only) game in town.
Like any number of arcade style sports games, The BIGS offers the standard conventions, like a turbo bar and a charged special meter. Your players can do some pretty fantastical moves, like banking off of the walls in order to snag a deep, potential homerun for a catch. The bigger moves that you perform, the better score you get. The main focus of the gameplay is the dynamic between pitchers and batters. Strikeouts will garner you a small boost in your special meter, while bit hits will give you even more of a boost, as well as lower the pitcher’s rating in whatever pitch got clocked. If you lose enough of your rating in a given pitch, then you’ll lose the ability to use that pitch for the rest of the game.
The struggle between the pitcher and the batter is most apparent when Duel Mode is engaged. If both teams have a full special meter and they each activate it, then you’ll go into Duel Mode, where the pitcher’s pitching stats are maxed out and the batter will knock the ball out of the park if he connects. Each side has little room for error, making for a pretty suspenseful and engaging match up every time.
Unfortunately, the PSP mode does have some problems that put it a step behind its console brethren. The controls aren’t very tight, and there’s a weird little pause before everything that you do. This is apparent when battling and pitching, but it’s a big problem in fielding. The fielding controls are not intuitive whatsoever, and you’ll often have a fielder just stand there when they’re the one who should be closing in on the ball. This can lead to lose bases, missed outs, and a lot of frustration.
In lieu of a Season mode, The BIGS offers the Rookie Challenge, with has you taking a rookie player and having you build up his attributes through training mini-games, as well as your team as a whole by stealing player from teams that you’ve beaten. In order to get to the player steal, however, you must complete at least two other challenges against the opposing team. These will require something of your created character, usually entailing a certain number of hits or even a certain number of homeruns.
The Rookie Challenge is a good addition, but it has its share of problems. For starters, the challenge doesn’t really focus as much on your player as it should. You still do the same things that you would do in an exhibition game, and your character’s chosen position doesn’t really affect the outcome. The only way to gain more points to beef up your attributes is to get hits and runs, and there really aren’t any extra incentives for playing good defense, as this doesn’t affect your player’s ratings whatsoever. Secondly, you can’t be a pitcher in the Rookie Challenge. It would’ve been really cool to be able to choose your character’s pitch set and build them up in that regard, but this can’t be done in The BIGS. Also, there isn’t a whole lot of variety to the challenges, making the whole things a bit repetitive after a couple of hours.
Graphically, the game looks pretty good on the PSP, but has some problems. The character models are well animated and move pretty nicely. The players’ faces are also pretty well done. However, the game does falter a bit with slowdown.
The sound is also a bit of a mixed bag. The soundtrack is pretty nice (also the whole “2K Beats” thing is a little too reminiscent of “EA Trax”) featuring a nice blend of rock tracks from bands like Screaming Trees and Stone Temple Pilots rounding out the bill. The commentary is well delivered, but it does get repetitive and sounds choppy at some points.
The BIGS is a fun, arcade-style approach to baseball, but doesn’t get too bogged down with over-the-top elements. The game is easy to get into, and shouldn’t annoy baseball purists who enjoy sim-heavy elements. While the PSP version stumbles a bit with control issues and a lack of some of the bigger features in the console versions, it’s still an engaging baseball game to play on the go.
Review Scoring Details for The BIGS
The BIGS captures the spirit of baseball, with huge exciting plays and some intense pitcher-batter situations adding to the game. However, the PSP version has some control issues, and the Rookie Challenge has its fair share of shortcomings. The loss of Home Run Pinball is pretty saddening.
The BIGS is a good looking game on the PSP, with well animated characters and some nice facial effects. The slowdown can be a bit of a problem sometimes.
A nice selection of music and solid sound effects round this one out, but the choppy and repetitive commentary hurts the score.
The game creates a nice balance, offering arcade play without being too bogged down with overly fantastical elements. However, the PSP version is missing some of the key elements of the console versions, like the fun Home Run Pinball mode.
The game’s multiplayer play is pretty solid, but ad-hoc only.
The BIGS is a fun and addicting baseball game with some really solid elements. While the PSP version has its share of foibles, it still does a great job of capturing the spirit of the game.
The PSP version of The BIGS offers up some addicting fast-paced gameplay in line with the console versions, but the controls need a little work.
Reviewer: Steven Hopper
Review Date: 07/09/2007